19 – 39 Tokyo Crusaders RFC – Kichijoji Wild Turkey RFC Referee: ANDREW PERONS

By Steve Howden On the 21st of Sept, the Tokyo Crusaders turned out for their second Shuto game of the season against Kichijoji WildTurkeys RFC. Having won the league the previous year, expectations were high and the team arrived early to get in some much-needed preparation before the game. God – as a rugby fan – had decided to clear the skies so that he could get a good view of the match; a welcome break from the rains we had experienced the day before. The stage was set for a fast and expansive game of rugby and fortunately the crowds had turned out, with many wives, girlfriends, boyfriends (I think Sean Gibson must fall into this category now) and children volunteering as water carriers, linesman and cheerleaders. Play kicked off at 15:10 and, unlike as normal, the Cru made a lethargic start as we struggled to get into the game. Within the first half hour, the team was down by two tries to nil. It became apparent that the opposition were a little stronger than their recent promotion from a lower league had suggested, as they were well drilled, hard-hitting and able to capitalise on our mistakes. The forwards took the game to the opposition and frequent smash-balls by our big pack – in particular from Pat Wheen, Paul Skerr and Jason Gall – eventually wore down the opposition’s dogged defence and the Cru was able to claw one back before the break. It’s worth pointing out that a night in a hospital after the birth of his first son was not enough to keep the big man, Paul Skurr, away. After the break, things started to improve and we managed to take the lead after two unanswered tries, both coming off the back of dynamic forward play. The last of these was Pat’s second of the game as he stormed through the opposition defence and then demonstrated pace, sprinting 30m to the tryline before being caught by the defence, and also his support. Unfortunately, this was as good as it got and the opposition upped a gear, scoring four more tries and a penalty to finish the game deserved winners at a slightly embarrassing 39-19. The game saw some powerful play from our forwards and strong performance from the back-row, and fly half, Travis Dixon, who showed what he can do if not drunk or incredibly hung-over, and who also ended up getting the Opposition’s vote for man-of-the-match. Big performances from Pat Wheen (the players’ choice for man of the match) and Paul Skurr gave us hope for the rest of the season. But the game was characterised by far too many errors, with knock-ons and missed tackles occurring all too easily. Nothing can be taken away from the opposition, though, whom we hugely underestimated, but it is clear that we will have some work to do if we are to hold on to the Shuto trophy this year.

5 points Pat Wheen
4 points Travis Dixon
3 points Paul Skurr
2 points Rob Galbraith
1 point Jason Gall

The Team

Position 1st Half 2nd Half
Prop Pat Wheen Pat Wheen
Hooker Gen Hirano Yusei Shimoda/Ryuji Matsuzawa
Prop Marc Sherratt Ryjui Matsuzawa/Adam Birss
Lock Paul Skurr Paul Skurr
Lock Jason Gall Jason Gall
Flanker Seth Robson Rei Morimitsu
Flanker Yuuki Adachi Steve Howden/Seth Robson/Koichi Takagaki
No. 8 Rob Galbraith Rob Galbraith
Halfback Evan Hitchman Evan Hitchman
Firstfive Travis Dixon Travis Dixon
Secondfive Matt Sparrow Matt Sparrow
Centre Gavin Smith Gavin Smith/Seth Robson/Steve Howden
Wing Pierre Sims Clive Callaway
Wing Koki Yamana Phillipe Buzon
Fullback Roy Yorke Roy Yorke/Seth Robson
Stewart Henwood was the Sideline Manager. There was no Safety Assisstant today. All players took the field. Sean Gibson (injured) came out to support along with Seth’s Mum again, and a few of the wags.

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